Review by AlCurtis
"How to make shooting zombies a bore (Australian version review)"
The original Left 4 Dead is a great game. Its mix of tight co-op play and brutal zombie attacks makes it great fun and a very different experience from other online games. When L4D2 was announced I couldn't wait to get it and kill more zombies.
It's too bad that some complete laziness, some horrible censorship and plain lazy development resulted in a game that's inferior to L4D in almost every way
L4D2, at its core is alot like the first L4D. You play as one of four survivors of a rabies strain that has infected the human race, trapped in one of four locations, or campaigns. You cooperate to get to the end alive, killing many, many infected on the way.
As in L4D co-operation is imperative to have any chance of success. Survivors can get pounced or otherwise attacked by certain infected, rendering them helpless unless another survivor helps them. Incapacitated survivors who have collapsed from too much damage need to be helped by another survivor or they will die. This forces a very close level of co-operation and makes it, like the first game a fun game to play online, although very similar to the first game.
The game also features new melee weapons. Axes, crowbars, katanas, machetes, chainsaws and more can all be used to beat or slice the infected and they come in very useful when you are surrounded or don't have time to aim, as well as being fun
Other new items include the defibrillator which allows you to revive dead players, not just incapped but actually dead, the adrenaline shot that temporarily allow you to run much faster, no matter how injured you are and hit harder in melee and the bile jar, which is a jar of the Boomer's puke. You throw it on an infected and all other infected will attack that one.
All the survivors in L4D2 are new. There are no returning faces or cameos from l4d besides infected.
This is a shame, but the new survivors are decent enough and there are plenty of funny quotes and comments like the first game. The voice acting isn't as good as the first time around however.
Left 4 Dead 2, if it wasn't completely castrated by censorship and bugs would be a good updatign on the first game and at least as good as the original, but sadly in it's current state it's a embarrassment.
Top of the list is the fact the game is censored in Australia and Germany. The game's violence looks incredibly tame, even less violent than the first game. It is highly detrimental to the gameplay and makes the game somewhat boring
In the us version of the game zombies can be decapitated , can have limbs sliced off by melee attacks and generally react like you'd expect a body to when its attacked by certain weapons. In the Australian version nothing happens. Every melee weapon simply looks the same and the infected fall over. This makes it feel like your using toy weapons against plastic dummies. The infected also disappear right after you kill them, before they even hit the ground, so you don't get an epic feeling, corpse covered room after fighting off a major horde.
For whatever reason infected on fire aren't shown as on fire, so when you throw a Molotov you'll see the flames of the Molotov, but infected in it will not catch fire and will instead look like they are dancing. It looks extremely ridiculous to see flames not actually setting fire to enemies and in L4D enemies caught fire, so why not in this?
Pipebombs also suffer from this as with the lack of gore zombies caught in a pipe bomb explosion simply disappear. There isn't a puff of blood and flying infected like in the first game; the zombies literally disappear very noticeably without a trace just after the bomb goes off, which makes the game look extremely unfinished. How valve thought this was acceptable I'll never know.
One of the games special infected enemies, Riot Cops do not show up in the AU version at all: they are totally removed, with no replacement so forget about killing all the special infected.
The game also features horrible survivor AI. Computer controlled survivors are as dumb as bricks.
They move slowly, take ages to react when somebody is caught by a special infected, sometimes ignore enemies hitting them and die instead and sometimes don't bother getting ammo for their weapons when you find an ammo pile. They also still don't use thrown weapons like pipebombs and often heal themselves when t they are barely hurt.
The bots are far dumber than in the original l4d, who had great aim and helped you very quickly when you were in trouble. This is very annoying when you play online and somebody drops, so you are left with nigh on useless bots.
The games campaigns are nice and varied and range from Dead Centre, which takes place in and around a city, to Dark Carnival which is set around an amusement park. The game also has a very different vibe to the first game, as it is set entirely in the southern US with very different looking locales and terrain. The game also has level that take place in the daytime , while the original game was set entirely at night. This lessens the creepy vibe the first game had, but adds variation. The campaigns can take up to an hour to complete each and much longer if you get stuck and due to the random nature of the game it has quite a bit of replay
As in L4D, L4D2 features the AI director, a omnipresent semi random AI system that triggers enemy appearances and item placement depending on how well the survivors are doing. This means that if you are blasting thought the zombies easily and everyone's healthy the game will throw more and harder enemies at you to give you a hard time, while if you're weaker it will take it easier on you and its more likely that you'll find health kits or ammo. The AI director can be nastier this time around and there are a LOT more enemies in L4D2 than the original with many, many more normal infected making the game much more difficult than its predecessor
Graphically L4D2 looks alot like L4D and about average for graphics today. It's no Crysis that's for sure, but the game is nicely detailed and has some interesting imaginative environments. Some of the assets such as wall and floor texture look reused from the first game, but its not very noticeable and the game as a whole looks good.
The sound is great. There is a ton of voice acting for virtually every situation and most of it is acted very well. The characters aren't quite as good as in the first game, especially Rochelle, who has poor acting, and a set of annoying or obnoxious lines. The other three survivors are much better and have distinct, varied personalities, from Coach's near constant talk of food, to Ellis' stories about life in the south, to Nick's general indifference and tough guy attitude. There is plenty of laugh out loud moments.
Enemy sounds are fittingly disgusting and frenzied, tho quite a few are recycled from the first game there are new sounds for each infected type and the new ones have good sounds too.
Weapons sound great with beefy heavy sounding gunfire and realistic sounding melee weapons making shooting satisfying.
It's a shame then that the censorship largely ruins the game and makes it feel like you're playing a run of the mill shooter from 1998, complete with lousy explosions and fading corpses, a la Goldeneye. The game also gets boring somewhat quickly as it's largely the same game L4D was, but with more of everything and a few minor new additions. If you are a rabid L4D fan, id still think very carefully if you can handle the censorship or not, then make a purchase. If you disliked the first game forget this one as it won't appeal to you either
To sum it up: Valve has failed to produce anything groundbreaking with L4D2 and the indifferent censorship, the games repetitious nature make it a below average game that could have been great.
Stick to the original.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/09, Updated 11/30/09
Game Release: Left 4 Dead 2 (AU, 11/19/09)
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